Kids cannot vote, but you can ensure that their voices are heard by engaging with candidates in local, state, and federal elections.
The local, state, and federal leaders we elect determine policy that will impact our daily lives for what may be generations to come. But how often do we pause to consider–specifically–how our choices at the ballot box will impact us, and particularly young children who depend on us to make the right choices?
We must keep the needs of children front and center each and every election season. While candidates are gearing up for the 2023 Governor’s race, child advocates are looking at making Kentucky kids count in 2022 in the races for the full Kentucky House of Representatives and half of the Kentucky Senate, mayoral and other local government races, judicial elections, and races for U.S. Congressional seats.
Check out our Electoral Advocacy Toolkit slideshow and Judicial Election Voter Toolkit presentation as you prepare your organization, community group, or self to speak with candidates.
Before you begin, check out data on child well-being and some recent policies for kids and families. Resources include:
- Kentucky KIDS COUNT 2021 County Data Book
- KIDS COUNT Data Center
- County-level data and data by race/ethnicity
- Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children and past wins for kids
After learning how kids are faring in your community, ask your candidates what they plan to do to improve the lives of kids and their families.
What are your policy priorities related to kids and families?
Ask candidates how their policy ideas will directly impact children and families. Children are so often an afterthought in legislation, or worse, left totally out of the picture. Asking about specific policies and budget priorities related to kids is a good strategy to raise the profile of children’s issues with candidates vying for your vote.
What about our kids?
As the saying goes, all politics is local. As you learn about the needs of kids in your county or legislative district, you may discover that your neck of the woods has, for example, a higher percentage of children living in poverty or higher rates of child maltreatment. Take this opportunity to educate candidates about the status of kids. Change has to start somewhere; it might as well start in your neighborhood or county.
Do your policies serve the needs of all kids?
Do not be afraid to ask candidates if their ideas will serve the needs of all children. We must elect leaders who will prioritize equity among urban and rural, racially diverse, differently abled, and economically disparate children. Access to essential services, like high-quality child care and safe, livable environments, are critical to ensuring children get the opportunities they need to lead successful, fulfilling lives. No child should be denied these basic supports and services.
What have you done for kids lately?
Whether the candidate you’re speaking with is an experienced public official or new to running for office, check their track record. If a candidate is an elected official and has little or no positive impact on children to show for their time in office, ask why. Check your candidate’s voting record and see if they have been publicly recognized for their support for kid-friendly bills or have voiced their concern for the needs of children in local media. If your candidate has not yet held elected office, ask what their personal, professional, and community commitments have been to kids and families.
Whether it be by ensuring children receive the nutritional services or healthcare they need, or that kids are treated fairly in the juvenile justice system, there is no shortage of children’s issues for candidates to address. Make sure that they made their time in office count, or make room for someone new.
Thank you for putting kids first!
This last point isn’t exactly a question, but a heartfelt “thank you” is powerful. Amidst all the toxicity of politics and criticisms in our capitals, gratitude and positivity can go a long way. Imagine if more voters praised politicians who actually put kids first — their peers might just start to pay attention and do the same. Remember that it’s your voice that can have an impact on who wins their election–and who is left throwing away old yard signs the next morning. Use your praise (or scorn) wisely and make an impact for kids!
Throughout this election season, engage with your candidates at the local, state, and federal levels and make your plan to vote:
- See what your sample ballot will look like before heading to the polls on November 8th (stay tuned for link from the Secretary of State’s office).
- In Louisville, voters will be deciding their next Mayor — check out messages from candidates, including their priorities for the city’s youngest population.
- Prepare for the 2022 election:
- Register or renew your current voter registration. The last day to register for General Election is October 11, 2022.
- Make your plan to vote! There are four ways for Kentucky voters to cast their ballot in 2022:
- In-person, Excused, Absentee Early Voting before Election Day, October 26th – 28th, 2022 and October 31st – November 2nd, 2022
- In-person, No-excuse, Absentee Early Voting before Election Day, November 3rd – 5th, 2022
- In-person on Election Day, November 8th, 2022
- By Mail-in Absentee ballot (return by mail or ballot drop-box). Mail-in absentee portal dates: 09/24/2022 through 10/25/2022
- Find your local polling location.
- Utilize this Electoral Advocacy Toolkit and the Judicial Election Voter Toolkit in preparation for or as a guide when speaking with candidates.
We encourage you to learn the tools of the children’s advocacy trade and be sure to ask candidates a question or two from the list above. Let’s make kids count in this election, Kentucky!
2022 Electoral Advocacy Toolkit
2022 Judicial Election Voter Toolkit Presentation
By Sadie Sand, Kentucky Youth Advocates intern
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